See, in Australia where I grew up the words that some people think you should never say and others use all the time are called “swear words” and the act of using them is “swearing”. Here in the United States of America they are “curse” or even odder “cuss” words and when you say them you are “cursing” or “cussing”.
Both of which sound unbelievably quaint as well as kind of cute to my ears. It’s as if I’ve been chatting with folks who appear to be from the twenty-first century and then—Bam!—all of a sudden a time machine has landed in their mouths, taken control of their tongues, and they can now only say words from the 1700s. “That blasted sea dog cussed at1 me!”
Okaaay, I think, backing away slowly.
And I use words like “hence” which makes many USians think that the time machine’s grabbed my tongue. These fun linguistic differences are why I keep coming back here. Such larks! (Oh, okay, and the fact that my fella is a Seppo. Details, details!)
Here are my favourite USianisms (some are regional; some have spread far beyond her borders):
- Discombobulate (Best. Word. Ever.)
Copacetic (A fancy word for “okay”. Who knew? So euphonious. Pleasure in my ears!)
All the myriad different words for a bad sandwich such as “hoagie”, “hero”, “grinder” etc etc
Sketchy (Meaning “dodgy”—obviously “dodgy” is better than “sketchy” but it still ain’t too foul)
On line (As in “Are you standing on line?” I’ve only ever heard this one in NYC)
Burglarize (Hah! I giggle every time I hear it. Scott has the same reaction to “removalist” back home)
Can’t think of any more right now. What are your favourite American words? Am I alone in finding “cuss” antiquated?
- Cussed on me? Near me? See? I don’t even know what the right preposition is! [↩]